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MLB Moves to Protect Player Safety By Banning Home Plate Collisions

By: Allan Siegel

Aside from providing injured athletes and their families with the compensation they deserve, concussion lawsuits have sparked an increased awareness about the need for protecting players and their future well-being. After the NFL lawsuit was settled earlier this year, more athletes have stepped forward to hold leagues responsible for failures to address risks associated with traumatic brain injuries, including players from the NCAA and the NHL. Now, in a preventative and controversial move, Major League Baseball (MLB) is considering a ban on home plate collisions.

The proposed ban was announced on Wednesday, December 11, and is now being sorted out by the league. Although details must be finalized by owners' and players' union votes, the MLB has the ability to initiate the ban on its own for the 2015 season if it is voted down. The main debate, however, is what the ban will mean to players, owners, the league, and fans.While many may not consider baseball a contact sport, collisions can and do happen frequently. Throughout the years, several home plate collisions have resulted in serious injuries for both runners and catchers, many of which were season or career ending. According to league statistics, two out of nine concussions in baseball resulted from collisions. In the field, a lack of communication may cause a collision. On the base path, however, runners are prohibited from making contact with defensive players – except at home plate.

The league considers the ban necessary in order to reduce risks of preventable injuries. Sandy Alderson, chairman of the MLB Rules Committee, also commented on the emerging issue of concussions in professional and amateur sports as a motivating factor behind the rule change. Although banning home plate concussions may protect owners' "investments" and shield them from some liability in the future, the main point is that the ban can better protect players by preventing injuries that are entirely preventable. When these injuries are as severe and unpredictable as brain injuries – which can have life-long consequences – the need for prevention is essential.

As with most change, this is one that is not readily accepted by all. The home plate collision ban is, however, a responsible and preventative move to protect players' safety. At Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C., our Washington, DC personal injury attorneys have spent years advocating on behalf of injured clients, including injured athletes and brain injury victims. We will continue to keep you informed about the home plate collision ban and other personal injury news in sports.